FP Virtual Dialogue: Is the West Losing the Fight for Democracy?

Why did the West, after winning the Cold War, lose its political balance?

When the Cold War ended in 1989, hopes for the eastward spread of liberal democracy were high. And yet the transformation of Central and Eastern European countries gave rise to a “politics of grievance” that turned to undermine the ideals of liberalism itself.

In The Light that Failed: A Reckoning, Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes argue that the supposed end of history turned out to be only the beginning of an “Age of Imitation.” Reckoning with the history of the last thirty years, they show that the most powerful force behind the wave of populist xenophobia that began in Eastern Europe,  and has spread to the heartland of the West stems from alienation and resentment at the post-1989 imperative to become Westernized.

FP deputy editor Cameron Abadi spoke with Ivan Krastev and  Stephen Holmes, authors of The Light That Failed: A Reckoning and winners of the 2020 Lionel Gelber Prize, and Janice Stein, Gelber Prize Jury Chair, on key political questions for our times, from a global perspective.

About the Lionel Gelber Prize:

Founded in 1989 by Canadian diplomat Lionel Gelber, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Lionel Gelber Prize. The Lionel Gelber Prize is a literary award for the world’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues. The award is presented annually by The Lionel Gelber Prize Foundation, in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Foreign Policy magazine.

In partnership with:


Cameron Abadi

Deputy Editor, Foreign Policy and Juror, The Lionel Gelber Prize
Cameron Abadi is a deputy editor at Foreign Policy. He previous...
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 3.45.32 PM
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 3.45.32 PM

Ivan Krastev

Co-Author, The Light that Failed: A Reckoning
Ivan Krastev is a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and the chairman of the Cen...
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 2.47.06 PM
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 2.47.06 PM

Stephen Holmes

Co-author, The Light that Failed: A Reckoning
Stephen Holmes is Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and the author of many books on liberalism, includin...
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 2.46.49 PM
Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 2.46.49 PM

Janice Stein

Jury Chair, The Lionel Gelber Prize
Janice Stein is the Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management in the Department of Political Science and the Founding Director of the Munk School ...
Janice Stein - 2012 (2)
Janice Stein - 2012 (2)

For more information, contact Sherri Greeves, Director of Academic Partnerships.